Saturday, April 15, 2017

Vic the Vampire

Children's chapter book VIC THE VAMPIRE: SCHOOL GHOUL (1990), by Hanya Bloom, is the first novel in a series that also includes (as far as I can find on Amazon) three other books, subtitled SCIENCE SPOOK, FRIENDLY FANGS, and VAMPIRE COUSINS.

As first-person narrator Mike begins the fourth grade, a strange but friendly new boy, Vic Alucard, joins the class. His family has recently moved from Transylvania (which the kids, including Mike, mishear as Pennsylvania). He's pale with red lips and wears a black cape over his black jeans and purple shirt. His family lives in a large, spooky house and keeps bats, a fierce-looking but affectionate dog, and a giant spider as pets. Vic and his sister Viveca eat raw hamburger, while their parents don't seem to eat at all, and Vic brings a thermos of thick, red liquid to school. He's allergic to garlic and flees in panic from getting his picture taken or being sprayed with a hose.

In keeping with the typical children's novel tropes, Mike has to cope with a class bully, in this case a girl named Missy. Although her sidekick, Clint, occasionally resorts to physical violence, Missy's bullying takes the form of insults and pranks. Naturally, she's the first to accuse Vic of being a vampire and spends the whole book trying to expose him. Mike, meanwhile, struggles with the problem of whether his new best friend could really be a vampire and whether that's a reason to fear him. The class organizes a fall carnival, in which Vic and his family play a vital role, where Mike finally has to come to terms with Vic's nature.

VIC THE VAMPIRE, aimed at a sightly younger readership than Mel Gilden's delightful Fifth Grade Monsters series, doesn't feature the witty pop culture allusions that make Gilden's stories fun for adults as well as kids. Still, if you're looking for fiction to entertain vampire-loving children, with a diversity-friendly message of openness toward people who seem "different," Bloom's series fits that niche.

Margaret L. Carter

Explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.


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